Hot suff: 5 top thermogenic foods
After consuming food; energy is required to process it. This increase in metabolic rate is referred to as the ‘Thermic effect’ (TE) of food or ‘Diet induced thermogenesis’ (DIT). Some scientists suggest that planning meals based on this concept may help you to control your weight.
Diet induced thermogenesis (DIT), commonly expressed as a percentage, is the energy used to break down food once it has been consumed. DIT is one of three components of daily energy expenditure and although it is the smallest component, it could play a role in the management of obesity through elevating metabolic rate, since different foods require varying amounts of energy for digestion.
Generally, the hierarchy of macronutrients which have the highest thermic effect are alcohol and protein with carbohydrate and fat having the lowest effect (in other words they require less energy to be digested). Normally a mixed diet would result in a diet related energy expenditure of 5 to 15 % of your daily energy expenditure.
However this percentage may be higher if more protein is consumed and lower if more fat and sugar is consumed. There has been a lot of evidence recently showing that protein induced thermogenesis has an important effect on satiety and overall energy intake.
The basic idea of the thermogenic diet is to restrict carbohydrates to some degree while emphasising low glycaemic sources and at the same time increasing the intake of specific thermogenic foods. Your metabolism will work harder than ever when you eat a lot of thermogenic foods, particularly if you use them to replace other calories in your diet like simple, starchy foods.
Which foods raise the thermic effect?
As already mentioned dietary fat is very easy to process and has very little thermic effect, while protein is harder to digest and has a much larger thermic effect. In addition to protein, and alcohol – which will help but only if moderately consumed, other foods and ingredients have been found to raise DIT in small quantities, raising your metabolism and helping you burn off calories. Below is a list of top 5 foods which all raise DIT:
- Protein: The best example of thermogenic food has to be lean protein. Solid foods that contain lean proteins are some of the most thermogenic foods. These lean proteins can be found in foods such as turkey and chicken breast, lean red meat like sirloin, buffalo, bison and other game meats. Another good source of lean proteins comes from seafood like shellfish and nearly every different type of fish. Egg whites also contain lean proteins that are considered to be thermogenic foods.
- Salsa: A study at the Oxford Institute showed that salsa stimulates the metabolism approximately 15 to 20% (similar to protein). You can throw it on anything from baked potatoes and scrambled eggs to beans and even veggies. It's going to help because it is a natural thermogenic food that increases your metabolism. Of course, the hotter the better, but don’t overdo it and only choose a salsa that suits your taste buds.
- Chillis and mustard: In one study looking at the effect of various ingredients on metabolism it was found that adding 3/5 of a teaspoon of hot chilli sauce or ordinary mustard to a meal caused the average metabolism of 12 subjects to shoot up by up to 25%. The subjects burned off an extra 45 calories over the following 3 hours. In a separate study it has been shown that mustard seeds can raise DIT substantially in overweight subjects.
- Ice Water: Ever wondered why mountaineers don’t just eat ice when they become dehydrated? It's because every little bit of energy has to be preserved on the mountain and eating snow will burn off calories to warm the water to body temperature. Rather than us suggesting that you eat ice though – ouch! You can try ice water, which burn up calories as your metabolism increases to warm up the water and it is also very effective for reducing cravings. It’s also super refreshing!
- Cayenne pepper: Cayenne pepper has become a popular ingredient added to diets due to its purported fat burning properties. You can add it to many different sauces, soups and stews and will not only get your metabolism rate up and running to give you an energy boost, but it also has artery cleansing properties as well.
Remember DIT (Diet induced thermogenesis) only makes up a very small part of your daily energy expenditure. Furthermore, many of these thermogenic foods e.g. mustard, chillies etc. are only consumed in very small quantities (hopefully!) so it is unlikely that they would have a profound effect on your weight – but then again every little helps!